You’ve been sleeping since, well, before you even showed up on the planet. And just like eating, you didn’t have to learn it from anybody, right? Wrong. Yes, our bodies need sleep and giving into it comes naturally. But as any parent will tell you — if you catch them when they’re awake, aware and not as cranky as the kid they just had to put down for a nap — getting into a good pattern of slumber that works for you takes training. Children and infants, however, are not the only ones who need help with getting the right amount of zzzz’s in the right way. Adults can find themselves losing sight of what works for them at night and here is where a sleep coach can help.
The sleep coach, a (controversial) new frontier
Sleeping well can take time. There are different theories on the best way to get children to fall asleep — from the Cry It Out (CIO) method created by Dr. Emmett Holt in 1895 and popularized by Dr. Richard Ferber in the 1980s with the Ferber Method, to co-sleeping where children sleep in close proximity (not necessarily in the same bed) to their caregiver in order to sense them. Whatever your method, those are the building blocks of early sleep.
As we grow and our bodies change, we need varying amounts of rest. Unfortunately, dozing off is not a one size fits all kind of deal — men need a different amount than women, teens have their own timing, children, infants, seniors... you get the drift. Finding the pattern that works best for you is a constant shift and adjustment. Once you hit your brick wall in your sleep pattern, the ramifications range from simply making you tired all the way to the kind of fatigue that takes over your entire body, mind and emotional state. A sleep coach is felt to be beneficial in training your patterns so that you can get the most out of your slumber. However, doctors aren’t necessarily in agreement with the whole sleep coach mentality. Whatever your thoughts, the sleep coach trend is rising and addresses a few issues.
When lullabies just aren’t enough
It began with super tired parents with non-sleeping babies. They needed help and professionals were sought to help them get their kiddos to shut their peepers. From sleep doulas such as Dream Team Member, Jennifer Salazar to companies that specialize in helping your child get to sleep, there are those out there to make lives easier for parents and little one alike. Kids, as we mentioned, naturally sleep, but finding the rhythm that works best for them can take time. Coaches and doulas work with the entire family to help get a routine that fits every person in the house because the addition of this new life has shifted the dynamic. Baby and child sleep coaches evaluate the household, look at feeding times and the tone of the house to best help the entire family get the rest they need for a healthier waking life.
Sleeping your way to better fitness
Studies have shown the right kind of sleep is good for physical fitness and maintaining a healthy weight. It enhances your athletic ability. With that in mind, Equinox — the high-end gym — has incorporated sleep coaches into their facility. If you are part of their Tier X — or Premier — membership level, you gain access to trainers specifically meant to guide you and work with you to a better sleep. It is part of their overall fitness program and is based on studies done in conjunction with UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. The idea is, yes, sleeping well is good for your physical well-being and the goal is to add sleep to your routine to make you a better, stronger human.
An alternative when all else fails
As we’ve shown, it all really started with parents seeking help with getting their kids to sleep or, even more importantly, stay asleep. It soon became apparent that adults need just as much if not more help with getting a good night’s rest in some instances and that’s how the rather lucrative world of sleep coachings for grown-ups took off. Yes, Equinox offers solutions or, rather, assistance to their higher end clients, but personal sleep trainers are popping up around the world. These certified professionals are not doctors but wellness coaches. They look at the entire lifestyle of a person in need to determine whether there are food or chronic medical issues, or other things going on in a life that leads to lack of sleep.
While we said these are not medical doctors, these men and women refer their clients to physicians if they see someone’s sleep problem is far deeper than late nights and long hours. For the most part, however, the training works to focus those who come seeking help on tips, tools and lifestyle changes to help them rest better. Just as when you go to the gym to get your body in shape, these programs seem to treat your sleep as a muscle that can be strengthened.
Getting the best rest you deserve
Before you jump to any conclusions either for against sleep coaching, do some serious research. Many medical professionals are skeptical of the process, worried trainers will overlook or misdiagnose serious sleep ailments like apnea and deeper mental health issues. For the most part, however, the men and women in this bright new field will immediately refer clients to the appropriate person to address those needs that are deeper than their services can handle. But you don't want to take any chances that the one person you're trusting with your mind, body and emotions isn't legit so, yes, do your research, get referrals, and make sure you understand all that's entailed with your sleep program.